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New-Look Men’s Basketball Team Incorporates Six New Players

Patrick Gustavson, Sports Editor

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The 2017 season was one of great strides for Central Connecticut’s men’s basketball team, finishing above .500 in non-conference play and reaching the Northeast Conference tournament for the first time since 2013.

But just four players from that team’s rotation remain, leaving the new-look team with six new players, five of them freshmen.

One of those new players that look to make an impact is freshman Ian Krishnan. Krishnan impressed in his first showing in the team’s exhibition against Arcadia, scoring 25 points on 9-15 shooting. It is likely that he will be the starting two guard.

Another is junior forward Jamir Coleman, who comes to Central from South Plains College in Texas. Coleman looks to replicate the success of a trio of Blue Devils who were brought in from junior college last year.

Head coach Donyell Marshall believes Coleman’s greatest asset is his versatility.

“He’s probably going to play the four mostly, but we moved him to the three spot,” Marshall said. “You saw him jumping over people and getting offensive rebounds. He can shoot the three. He can bring the ball up on the break.”

Marshall also believes the presence of Coleman has created competition for junior forward, Joe Hugley, making both players better.

“Those two have pushed the heck out of each other in the preseason,” Marshall said. “They go at each other with pride but they’re really good friends and they both know we’re going to play who gives us the best chance to win. But that’s what has pushed them both to become good.”

Marshall said the presence of Coleman, Hugley and Krishnan all take pressure off Tyler Kohl, the team’s top scorer from the past season.

“Last year, we had to get the ball to Tyler. Ian and Jamir and Deion in the post is going to take a lot off him. Now, it’s okay if you double-team Tyler because Tyler’s a pretty good passer, he creates for other players,” Marshall said.

The third returning player from the JUCO trio is senior center Deion Bute, who led the NEC in field goal percentage last season. Marshall believes Bute has to “take care of the ball, stay out of foul trouble and make layups” in order to take his game to the next level.

Similar to Hugley, Marshall feels the presence of freshman Karrington Wallace has provided competition for Bute, something he lacked last season. Marshall believes Wallace can be utilized as a small five and called him a “good defender.”

But perhaps the most interesting position on the team is the point guard. Junior Eric Bowles transferred to DII Virginia Union. Redshirt freshman Eduardo Camacho looked to be taking over the spot, but transferred late in the offseason, for multiple reasons, per Marshall.

This leaves two-year starter Tyson Batiste, who will be flanked by freshman Thai Segwai in what will be a “point guard by committee.”

Though neither player offers much in terms of scoring, Marshall believes both are strong defenders and take care of the basketball, particularly impressed with the freshman Segwai, citing the exhibition.

“Thai played 23 minutes and had no turnovers,” Marshall said. “We had 12 turnovers at the 18-minute mark in the second half. Thai plays almost the remainder of the half and you have two turnovers the rest of the game, and neither of them was Thai’s or Tyson’s.”

Marshall also cited freshman Mike Underwood as a contributor, possibly filling the shooter role voided by Austin Nehls, who transferred to Ball State.

Of the team’s 13 non-conference games, 10 of them will be on the road. The team won just six of its 20 road games last season.

“We’ve got to come in more focused,” Marshall said of his team’s road play. “It’s just us on the road. The bench has got to be there to pick up whoever’s in the game. Those are the ones where you’ve got to dig down and play a little harder.”

Most notably, the team will head to Jamaica for the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic on Nov. 16.

“Those games are going to be on TV. I think they’re going to see us, especially if we can go over there and win. And for the team, it gives us something exciting [to look forward to],” Marshall said of the opportunity.

Some of those road games will take place against major conference opponents Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Providence and Oregon State.

“All these kids think they can play on that level, so it gives them a chance to play against those teams,” Marshall said of the benefits of those games.

As for the team’s expectations, Marshall says the goal is always to make the NCAA Tournament.

“Our goal is still to have the best season possible and get to the postseason. The first postseason is the conference tournament. The next postseason is going to one of the four tournaments,” he said.

About the Writer
Patrick Gustavson, Sports Editor

Patrick Gustavson can be reached at pgustavson@centralrecorder.org.

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New-Look Men’s Basketball Team Incorporates Six New Players